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Club Focus: Thomond RFC

17th January 2014 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus: Thomond RFC

Thomond RFC was officially formed in 1944 and in that season played its inaugural competitive match against Garryowen FC at Thomond Park in the Junior League. With this demanding first game in prospect, preparations began on Sunday 17th September of that year when the first practice was held at Shelbourne Park

Thomond RFC was officially formed in 1944 and in that season played its inaugural competitive match against Garryowen FC at Thomond Park in the Junior League. With this demanding first game in prospect, preparations began on Sunday 17th September of that year when the first practice was held at Shelbourne Park

Thus began a relationship with a venue that was to be home until 1978 when the club secured a pitch in the area between Woodview and Moyross known today as Liam Fitzgerald Park. A long serving stalwart of the club, Liam Fitzgerald’s sister Hilary Dillon later became president of Thomond RFC, the first lady president in rugby history of the All Ireland League.

“Following our move we played our first match at Liam Fitzgerald Park in January 1980 and in January 1982 we opened our clubhouse”, said Declan Cusack, former Senior Coach, Captain and now Chairman of Thomond Underage. Since our formation we played in the Junior League until season 1999/2000 when we were promoted to a senior club.”

“Soon after the move, the Moyross houses started being built around us which created a huge catchment area for the club, added Cusack. “Unfortunately we currently have only one pitch, and with the population growing we are desperately looking to expand our facilitates and accommodate all our 14 teams.”

With up to 200 mini and youth players training every week Cusack says that in order to maintain the club’s sole pitch for competitive fixtures they have no choice but to relocate for training, stressing the need for redevelopment.

“All our underage training on Sunday mornings is done at LIT in order to preserve our own pitch for matches. Our seniors train three times during the week, once at home and twice away at LIT which is not ideal”.

“Through the Limerick Regeneration Project there has been houses knocked creating land opportunities right alongside us and thanks to the enormous efforts of Oliver O’Loughlin in the Limerick City Council we are hopeful this land will become available for us to develop.”

“As well as new pitches we are hopeful the regeneration project will allow us to upgrade our facilities including dressing rooms, showers and a gym which we hope will commence at soon as possible.”

Boasting 11 underage teams Thomond RFC acknowledge the importance of recruiting players and this year has seen an increase in numbers thanks to the work of Kenneth McNamara, the club’s Youth Development Officer.

“In conjunction with the Limerick Regeneration we are currently going into four local primary schools (St. Munchins, Caherdavin, JFK and Moyross) for an hour a week to get the kids out playing rugby”, said McNamara. The feedback from the teachers and principals has been very positive and they are delighted with the initiative. In some cases the kids have never played rugby before and have liked it so much they want to join the club – so far we’ve recruited about youth 26 players as a result of our recruitment drive which is great!”

“We’re doing really well at underage and I would put that down to our youth structure. About 80% of players in our senior team have come through our youths system which, in my opinion, is a testament to the great work being done a grassroots.”

“We are currently fielding three adult teams and Under 6 age grade right up to Under 18 except an Under 16 team which we are working on. Unfortunately we do not have an Under 20 side which is our main priority for the coming season”.

Following a disappointing 13-5 away defeat to Skerries last week-end, Thomond are currently positioned fourth in Division 2B of the league table and are hopeful they can improve on their recent performance. “We have a massive game against Nenagh in the middle of February who haven’t lost a game yet so it will be hard to catch them” said Cusack. “This is a rebuilding year for us but we’d love to finish in the top 3 with a chance of promotion. With our next three consecutive games at home I am confident our players have the ability to achieve this”, he added.

Thomond have been represented at international level by three of its members Jimmy Tydings, Eddie Halvey and more recently Keith Earls. Earls' father and former Thomond Head Coach Ger Earls has also represented Munster as well as out-half Declan Cusack (Junior) who now plays for England side Plymouth.

“It is very much a family club”, said McNamara. “You’d still see Keith up at the club on occasions. He has a lot of family members involved with Thomond and has a few of cousins who play, including our captain Eoin O’Neill, so he often comes up to support them.”

Also actively involved with Thomond is international referee Peter Fitzgibbon who Cusack says plays a huge part in the club’s development. “It’s great to have a referee of Peter’s standard involved and I would like to acknowledge all his hard work, he said. “He will always oblige and make himself available to help in any way he can, and is also on hand to up-date our coaches on law changes and so on which is a huge advantage.”

“We are also very proud of Thomond’s long serving club man and this season’s Munster Rugby President, John Hartery. John was a PRO with the club in the ‘70s when he was only 15 which is pretty impressive. He also coached with us for years and was part of the 1991 Junior Cup winning side.”

“He has a long history with Thomond as does his entire family who are massively involved also. He is very busy this year but still finds the time to support all our adult and underage teams as much as he can.”

“Like John, we have a lot of former players who give back to the club. As well as being part of our committee, many of our ex players are happy to help out at underage and pass on the values we have all been brought up with at Thomond Rugby Club. It is not about the winning of the tropies, it’s about getting players involved and making sure they are enjoying themselves while developing life long friendships – that is what we are all about.”

Club Officers

President: Mick O’Donnell
Chairman of Rugby: Eddie Hughes
Hon. Secretary: Leon Ledger
Hon. Treasurer: Kieran O’Neill
Fixture Secretary: J.J. Ryan
Youth Officer: Pat Daly
Chairman of Underage: Declan Cusack


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